Until recently, I have had my suspicions about spelt. But then I added cherries.

Cherry!And, while I’m not sure I fully accept spelt – I view it the way I view kamut, quinoa, and millet … that is to say, as a hippie grain that’s more for fibre than flavour – I’ve come to understand it. Spelt is not all bad. It’s certainly not bad for you. Maybe don’t eat a whole loaf of spelt bread or anything, but if you’ve got cherries – or raspberries, or blueberries, or whateverberries – make muffins. Use brown sugar. A pinch of nutmeg, and maybe some orange zest. The result? A hearty, fill-me-up breakfast muffin that’s as good for you as bran but not as old-mannish. Today is make-up words day.

I bought a bag of spelt flour about a month and a half ago when the little organic store at UBC was clearing out its stock for the summer. I didn’t know what to do with it, but I got a whole lot of it for three dollars, so I thought I’d try it. And then when I ran out of whole wheat flour and forgot to restock, and wanted to make muffins, I thought – “the hell? I’ll use the spelt.” You can make this recipe with whole wheat flour if you want. You can even use white flour – I am not there to judge. But if you have access to spelt, use it, and make these moist little muffins and enjoy knowing that just eating them probably makes you healthier than the guy sitting next to you on the bus. Unless you drive to work, in which case, you’re probably already the healthiest person in your car. Unless you carpool with marathon-running vegans. Oh, hell, I don’t know. Make muffins. Feel happy.

Spelt Muffins with Cherries and Orange

(makes about 16 muffins)

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • Zest and juice of one small navel orange
  • 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs until the mixture is blended, light in colour, and smooth.

In another large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Zest the orange into this mixture as well. Make sure the dry stuff is thoroughly combined.

While beating the butter mixture, slowly add the flour mixture. Once you’ve emptied all of the flour into the butter bowl, squeeze in the orange juice and add the milk. Beat until combined. Add the cherries, and if you’re using nuts, the nuts, and toss the mixture until the cherries are just coated, not smooshed.

Pour batter into a muffin pan that’s either greased or lined with those awesome baking paper cup things. Bake the muffins for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one comes out clean.

MMMuffins.Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool. Make sure to eat at least one while it’s still warm, with butter and maybe a little bit of maple syrup or honey. Feel yourself getting regular and slightly smug.

Muffin on a plate.

I leave for Winnipeg on Wednesday, and although I hope to post another tribute to food before I leave, I may not get to. I don’t know what they eat in Winnipeg, but I’m determined to find out. I’ll be a bridesmaid, so that’ll cut into my investigation a bit, but I hope to be back to my beloved Internet before long – hopefully I’ll have something of significance to report. If not, I’ll think of something. Back soon.

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